Boral worker blames local council for mine closure

Recently redundant Boral employee and local Wingecarribee councillor Graham McLaughlin has blamed a lack of council support for the closure of Boral’s Medway mine.

Cr McLaughlin took aim at fellow councillors after Boral announced last week it would shut mining operations at Berrima Colliery, leaving 40 people out of work.

McLaughlin said council’s decision to withdraw support for the company’s proposed mining expansion in 2012 was a key factor in the company’s decision to shut shop, Southern Highlands news reported.

"I lay the blame on the councillors who wouldn't support local jobs at the time," he said.

"I hope people remember this the next time they go to the ballot box."

McLaughlin also blames the action taken by the anti-coal activists for the mine's closure.

"Southern Highland Coal Action Group that took on a little old coal mine that was operating for over a hundred years, has supplied the energy to the cement works for over 80 years. They wanted to stay competitive, they wanted to produce a tiny bit more of coal, sell it on the open market to keep them viable but oh no we got taken to the Land and Environment Court and we got slammed," he said.

However, Cr Larry Whipper said Cr McLaghlin's comments were "a little naive, simplistic and designed to offload the responsibilities that belong to Boral”.

In 2012, the Community Coal Reference Panel, headed by Whipper, raised concerns that contaminated water from the mine was running into the Wingecarribee River.

As a result, Crs Jim Clark, Ken Halstead, Juliet Arkwright and Whipper voted to overturn the council's support for the mine's expansion.

Whipper said the council's withdrawal of support was aimed at raising concern over the potential impacts of the mine expansion.

"The final determination was assessed independently and not I or any other councillor had a part to play in that outcome," he said.

"This is a global decision, based on (Boral) maintaining dividend for stakeholders.

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